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Mental Health

Training Program in Data Integration for Causal Inference in Behavioral Health

Behavioral health, broadly defined to include mental health and substance use, includes many of the most pressing public health problems of our time. The transition to a data-rich, web-interconnected society has generated an opportunity to generate solutions, but it necessitates a paradigm shift in workforce training in data analytics. The goal of this training program, referred to as Data Analytics for Behavioral Health, is to train scholars to become leaders in the use of advanced computational methods and designs to estimate causal effects in behavioral health. The training program is funded by the NIMH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research and administered by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The program provides rigorous training and high-quality mentorship in: 1) the science of behavioral health; 2) computational and analytic tools to manage, analyze, and integrate complex data sources; and 3) causal inference methods to take full advantage of these data. The program is housed in the Department of Mental Health, with the 5 trainees per year coming from four social science oriented departments at JHSPH: 1) Mental Health; 2) Health Behavior & Society; 3) Health Policy & Management; and 4) Population Family & Reproductive Health. Further, the program leverages close connections with data scientists, statisticians, and computer scientists from across the University.

Trainees undertake a rigorous program of coursework in the core domains of public health and behavioral health including behavioral and social science, epidemiology, biostatistics, data science, population health informatics, causal inference, and research ethics. In addition, each trainee takes additional elective courses in social and behavioral perspectives on mental health and substance use, informatics and computational skills, and causal and statistical inference. Trainees also participate in a year-long seminar on analytics for behavioral health, a bi-weekly seminar to discuss research in progress and professional development, ongoing mentored research projects, and integrative activities to complement their didactic curriculum. The trainees are supported by an experienced group of 21 core faculty; each trainee is co-advised by one of 9 affiliated faculty with methodological expertise.

The overarching aim of the program is to identify and train scholars who will become leaders in using a diversity of advanced analytic tools and data to answer key questions in behavioral health.

For more information contact the Program Director, Elizabeth Stuart, estuart@jhu.edu.